Personal Thoughts on Post-Colonialism Theories

Post-colonialism deals with the conditions that have affected both so-called First World & Third World countries after colonialism. It is similar to the master and subject relationship: the master takes the subject’s right to speak, to literacy; have them diverted to ‘other rules’, etc. in other words, the subject just becomes into a ‘shadow’, unable to speak because of the wrongdoings of the Master.

The theories under it has made the author to think and reevaluate her status in society. She dreads the West for the mistreatment of the East, their greediness and cruel treatment, and their horrible mistakes. She finds them very interesting and thought-provoking. It lets her understand the current issues of the world in globalization. Born in the US, Chinese in blood, Filipino-American in citizenship, Filipino in mind and heart – why so complicated for so many people in the East: the so-called Other? She believes that the West is so insecure (even until today) that they decided to impose their so-called ‘superiority’ onto others, so they can feel better, but it doesn’t work always. They do make their presence known even they left, through various ways & sources of media, what a complicated world to live in.

Don’t get her wrong. It’s her opinion of the West & their so-called ‘superiority’. They’re mostly shallow, like the shallowest part of the sea: it’s never enough for them to be better than others. In a way, yes; in another, they didn’t. She prays one day that they will stop using those wretched labels on them and others, and learn that everyone is equal in humanity & no one is no better than others in certain ways. That, she hopes, will happen in the near future…

The ‘Pretty Boy’: Applying Sedgwick into the Kritios Boy

Camille Paglia mentions in the section Pagan Beauty from her book Sexaul Personae: Art & Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson of the Kritios Boy. She said that the Kritios Boy is a mix of the Apollonian and Dionysian concepts: he’s the muscle structure of a man, yet has dewy girlishness of a woman. Back in ancient Greece,  homosocial and homosexuality weren’t so bothersome compared to today in some communities.  Older men taught these young boys, at the time women were denied a right to be educated. What’s to do with queer studies? The author will do some application with  Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick‘s essay Between Men.

Sedgwick explains of the concept of the male homosocial desire, which is marred by homophobia, fear and hatred for homosexuals; she then also notes that ‘Our own society is brutally homophobic; and homophobia directed against both males and females is not arbitrary or gratuitous, but tightly knit into the texture of family, gender, age, class, and race relation.’ She then makes note of K.J. Dover‘s study Greek Homosexuality and puts further stress that homosexuality among men then was widespread, illicit and somewhat influential (for some parts) in Greece in the ancient times. She said that the pursuit of the young boy, on the verge of manhood, by an older man is stained with  stereotypes that come with romantic heterosexual love (conquest, ‘cruel fight’, etc.), but she also pointed out that this usually doesn’t last long, for the boy will become a man soon. Still, she stated that it had a powerful effect in a boy’s education: with Dover quoting from Pausanias in Plato’s Symposium, ‘that it would be right for him (the boy) to perform any service for one who improves him in mind and character.’ It’s relationship of mentor-ship.

Back to Paglia’s observation of the Kritios Boy & the beautiful boy. Paglia made a similar observation of male homosocial desire, saying the beautiful boy is desired yet he never desires for love, an adolescent stuck in between a female past and a male future, a girl-boy, as she described him with his masculinity blurred like a clouded fragment of ancient glass. She then compares him to other statues of the time and discovers similar features in them: ‘These youth have a distinctly ancient Greek face: high brow, strong straight nose, girlishly fleshy nose, full petulant mouth, and short upper lip… the face of Elvis Presley, Lord Bryon, and  Bronzino’s glossy Mannerist blue boy.’ She also quotes Sigmund Freud who too observed the androgyny of the Greek adolescent: ‘Among the Greeks, where the most manly men were found among inverts, it is quite obvious that it was not the masculine character of the boy which kindled the love of man; it was his physical resemblance to woman as well as his feminine psychic qualities, such as shyness, demureness, and the need of instruction and help.’ But alas, she also made disturbing observations of the bad notion of boy-love in the present day, saying that is now not only scandalous and a criminal offense, but, somehow, a bad taste in its self; yet beauty has its own laws that are far inconsistent with Christian morality.

What Paglia and Sedgwick observed is quite interesting: the beautiful boy is androgynous, and  does really attract homosocial desire of a man of the time, all because of his mistaken physical appearance of a woman, or, girl and his ‘feminine’ psychic qualities reflecting from him.  Back then in Ancient Greece, it was a common thing  for boys to be taught by older men; in exchange, these boys give them emotional stability. Today, it is seen as a morality crime. They must have agreed that one thing is certain: the  beautiful boy is now in moral scrutiny of the present day. Many religions (mostly Judeo-Christian religions) have teachings against homosexuality.

The author has known of some well-known LGBT personalities and persons whose names, for privacy reasons, are not mentioned but should be acknowledged.  She also knew of a childhood celebrity crush who has gay friends since childhood, and was awfully  disturbed by hurtful insults thrown in (high) school, though she isn’t really sure if he was the target, though his gay friends were obviously hurt, and has, ever since, worked with US-based help hotline LGBTQ-oriented organization The Trevor Project for a few years (and counting).

Hopefully, this article can help others in understanding the existence of the brutally hurt LGBT community, and why are they despised by society, and that it has connections from way back to Ancient Greece, where it has to do with a young boy’s education of their time.

Sources:

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York City, New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.

Paglia, Camille. “Pagan Beauty.” Sexaul Personae: Art & Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. New Haven: Random-Vintage, 1990. 99-139.

A Feminist View of Mind: A Personal Reflection on Feminism

Feminism is a theory that deals with the ever-changing view of women in many ways: it could be in media, real-life, obviously everything. In short, feminism talks about the condition of women in past, and present. While not discussing about any essay in general, the author would like to talk about feminism in general. This is something that intrigues many people, even men (surprisingly), and many college students has a great sense of respect for, and dedicated their theses to.

To be honest: the author is glad that men and women are slowly getting an equal footing in almost every aspect of life and society. Many women have found their voice & place in life & society. Something that many women wanted to express on. It has been a long way from Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women published during in-between the Scientific and Industrial Revolution. Feminism today has been one of the most interesting theories found in the academia.

The condition of women have changed over the past years. Before, many women are in the house, looking after the household and the children. That was their fate, that is, several generations later… Many doesn’t just stay at home, and/or look after the household and children: many can work to earn a living, take part in current events and issues, and voice out their opinions, just to name a few. Yet, there are some issues that have to settle down over the years: things such as like rape, domestic violence, poor treatment in life, etc. While there are efforts done by many individuals and the government all over the world to address these issues, there are still untold stories of pain and resentment that have yet gotten justice for these poor women who need help to make themselves independent physically, socially, emotionally, psychologically and  spiritually. These vary from one country to another: each with various different needs that women really need to obtain to be free from the shackles of pain inflicted to them unjustly by their oppressors.

The author, as a woman, can understand how this can affect her as well: in her gender, as well as her sexuality. It have been her concern to understand why there are some issues that have affected women in the past still persist & have yet to end soon.  Hopefully, in the future, these issues and abuses done onto women will end once and for all in a honorable manner; something many are hoping to go well.

Personal Thoughts on Edward Said’s Orientalism

The author struggles with the identity of her own as a person in terms of culture. Born an American, yet Asian in blood and in education. It seems more fitting for her to pour her thoughts on Edward Said’s Orientalism.

Like this author, he too has his fair share of identity problems. He studied in the West, yet he was Asian, or Arabic. He used much of his personal experiences as the basis of the essay. While it was criticized for not putting much emphasis in other Asian nations (like India) and it being strangely forgiving to French Orientalist writers, it’s safe to say that it can be applied to other countries (in real life or in media). He deals with the concept of the Other, and how the West tries to make a distinction among them and the East (which could help them to take over the world (in some ways)), despite the fact the East also have their way of labeling others. Still, this issue lingers in people’s minds, regardless of where they are from.

The author found this a very personal thing in her part. Growing up seeing Western products come and go and living in a Third-World country (now a Tiger Cub Economy), she sometimes wonders where her nationalistic alliance lies with, nevertheless, she’ll be a Filipino no matter what happens, despite her American birth, and her Chinese blood. Like Said, she too is a product of Orientalism, except she’s West in birth, Asian in blood. This is a theory she finds the most intriguing in terms of personal experiences. One might say, Who am I?

That, some will never know, depending how long the problem lasts in a person’s mind. Regardless, this essay has helped her understand her condition as an Asian-American living in a Third-World, Tiger Cub nation. It makes her understand her stand in life, and her identity as a foreign-born Asian. This author will not be deter in her life, as she explores the world around her. No matter whatever people will say or think, she’ll always be Asian in mind, heart and soul.

 

Damsel in Distress: An Critical Look at Mickey Mouse cartoon “The Klondike Kid”

Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIFpT6iKcPU

  In the 1932 Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘The Klondike Kid”, Mickey Mouse was busy entertaining the folks in a tavern playing with the piano when he saw a tired and homeless Minnie Mouse collapsing from exhaustion. He was able to get her out of the cold, and they became close friends afterwards; he was giving her some soup when Big Pete showed up uninvited and took Minnie hostage & went off to his cabin. Mickey followed them with his dog Pluto bringing movement for the sled, which led to a wild fight which was later ended with Pluto making himself a huge snowball that knocked Pete’s cabin off the cliff and smashed the latter into logs, trapping Pete underneath.

For this, feminism is employed to look at certain points of the cartoon. The main concept here is the concept of the stereotypical damsel in distress. According to Urban Dictionary, a damsel in distress is a female stereotype of an unmarried woman who is need of help, any woman who needs help (usually virginal, beautiful, young, virtuous, and hopelessly passive, as well as being asexual).  In short, a damsel in distress is usually female who’s placed in enormous danger and has to wait for help (usually in the form of a man) to come along. This is mostly seen in fairy tales, and to some extent, some TV shows, films and cartoons. Many young girls, growing up with such tales in their childhood, would dream of a prince to come for them someday, only to be crushed years later. That depends on certain situations a girl has to face later in life.

Way back then, women were supposed to be passive and dependent on men. This yet again is an idea found in fairy tales. Joseph Campbell, in ‘The Power of Myth’, mentions about this stereotype in fairy tales, there were such stories with a young girl who doesn’t want to grow up, and at the times of crisis, she balks. Then she falls asleep until a prince comes in, having to go through many trials to reach her. However, during the Middle Ages and even some times after that, some of the women are anything but in distress. Some, like Joan of Arc, has the guts to go into war; one woman led her castle against a siege in her 60’s, another one went against a forced marriage and became a holy woman. Still, this stereotype of a dependent woman wouldn’t be more influential until the Victorian Age, with the Industrial Revolution ushering in. Woman then became mere ornaments of their husbands.

In this cartoon, as well as other early Disney cartoons in the old times, Minnie was portrayed as that damsel in distress, and Mickey that prince that have to save her from harm (or in this case, Big Pete). Here, she needed to be saved a lot. One was that she was out in the cold: hungry, tired and cold & she collapsed after reaching the tavern. Mickey has to get her out of there, hence fulfilling the concept, as well as him giving her soup. The second has her being kidnapped by Big Pete who tries to seduce her, yet failed because she refused to. So, she needs to be saved again, making Mickey to go after Pete with Pluto mushing forwards, only to be distracted by a rabbit, leaving Mickey to face Pete in order to save Minnie, whose skirt was hung on to a mounted deer head trophy. This shows the idea of the woman being needy & dependent on the man to get her out of any situation.

But as the years went by, some cartoons later showed Minnie as mature, smart and level-headed, sometimes annoyed by Mickey’s antics as well as those of others as evident in the cartoon show House of Mouse. However, in Mickey Mouse Works, there’s a segment called Mickey to the Rescue wherein Minnie is portrayed as the damsel in distress again with Pete always holding her hostage and Mickey rescuing her from the former’s clutches. Then again, who knows what would strike their mind instantly without any second thought?

Therefore, it is safe to say that people should be careful in what they are reading, listening or watching in terms of how it will affect one’s mind-set later in life.

 

Sources

Campbell, Joseph and Moyers, Bill. “The Hero’s Adventure.” Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth. New York City, New York, United States of America: Doubleday, 1988. 168.

The Disney Wiki. Minnie Mouse. n.d. 6 Spetember 2013 <http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Minnie_Mouse&gt;.

—. The Klondike Kid. n.d. 6 September 2013 <http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/The_Klondike_Kid&gt;.

The Klondike Kid. Dir. Wilfred Jackson. Perf. Walt Disney, Bill Blecther and Pinto Colvig. 1932.

Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary: damsel in distress. n.d. 6 September 2013 <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=damsel%20in%20distress&defid=6128113&gt;.

Correct Story, Wrong Interpretation: Applying ‘Orientalism’ in the Ballad of Magellan

Wonder if they really learn that pre-Hispanic Filipinos don’t look like cavemen & only wore vests or sleeveless jackets & g-strings (men), and baros and sayas (Filipinas) back then…

Animaniacs featured the story of the first circumnavigation of the world, through the eyes of Ferdinand Magellan, in a form of a ballad. However, near the end of the song, the last segment depicted a bad image of pre-Hispanic Filipinos as stereotypical savages. For this application, the author will use some aspects of Edward Said‘s ‘Orientalism‘. While Said uses his personal life as the main basis for the essay, it is safe to say that it can be also applied to any country (even Asian nations).

As all is concerned, Spain used to rule over the Philippines for 333 years, ending with the Philippine Revolution, Philippine Independence, & the coming of the new enemy: The United States of America. Now prior to the formal colonization of the country in 1565, the Spanish have went through at least 4 to 5 explorations. Magellan started his voyage on August 10, 1519 in Spain. With him are five ships, only one returned after almost 3 years of sailing.

While it is unknown if the animators and writers of the Steven Spielberg-sponsored animated cartoon show had done their research, it’s undeniable that they unintentionally exoticied the Philippines’ pre-Hispanic times very horribly. Tragic, isn’t it? They looked like cavemen in cartoons these days (not counting the Flintstones and their spin-offs). Back then, Filipinos weren’t like this. Men then wore a collarless, sleeveless vest or jacket that reach down to the waist and a cloth-like g-string called the bahag. Women, on other hand, had sleeved jackets called baros and long skirts sayas, accompanied by a waist cloth called a tapis. The color and/ or pattern of the cloth around a man’s forehead (putong) and jacket indicate their status and/ or deed(s), e.g. a red putong states that this man killed someone in war. Also noteworthy is their penchant for accessories and jewelry. They were adorned with necklaces, bracelets, etc. Even the men wore these during the pre-colonial times in the Philippines.

Said mentions about the concept of the Other. East and West are made by the latter to separate one from other, like labels in a can. In this case, the people behind this segment has just done that, despite the fact the Filipinos back then are not savages: they were as highly-civilized, though not as prominent as China, India, Egypt, Greece or Rome in those days. And also very ironic due to the fact that the Philippines had been free from Spain after more than a century, with sudden interruptions from the US and Japan respectively. That could have tarnished the Philippines’ image as a country, and its history in jeopardy.

Now if only they had hired a historian specialized in Philippine History in the first place of how the pre-colonial Filipinos were like or how they look like, it didn’t have so horrible. Worse, however, is how Magellan died. The cartoon claimed he was speared to death; but according to one of the men who participated the Battle of Mactan, Antonio Pigafetta, it is more unfamily friendly than what the Warners have observed: He died in the hands of the country’s first hero against foreign intruders: Datu Lapu-Lapu of Mactan, though it was shown as a bothersome for him since he had a feud with another Chieftain at the time. This is from the excerpt of his account of the circumnavigation of the world on the Battle of Mactan:

“When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, those men had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries, two divisions on our flanks and the other on our front.

When the captain saw that, he formed us into two divisions, and thus did we begin to fight. The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly; for the shots only passed through the shields which were made of thin wood and the arms [of the bearers]. The captain cried to them, “Cease firing cease firing!” but his order was not at all heeded. When the natives saw that we were shooting our muskets to no purpose, crying out they determined to stand firm, but they redoubled their shouts. When our muskets were discharged, the natives would never stand still, but leaped hither and thither, covering themselves with their shields. They shot so many arrows at us and hurled so many bamboo spears (some of them tipped with iron) at the captain-general, besides pointed stakes hardened with fire, stones, and mud, that we could scarcely defend ourselves.

Seeing that, the captain-general sent some men to burn their houses in order to terrify them. When they saw their houses burning, they were roused to greater fury. Two of our men were killed near the houses, while we burned twenty or thirty houses. So many of them charged down upon us that they shot the captain through the right leg with a poisoned arrow. On that account, he ordered us to retire slowly, but the men took to fight, except six or eight of us who remained with the captain.

The natives shot only at our legs, for the latter were bare; and so many were the spears and stones that they hurled at us, that we could offer no resistance. The mortars in the boats could not aid us as they were too far away.

So we continued to retire for more than a good crossbow flight from the shore always fighting up to our knees in the water. The natives continued to pursue us, and picking up the same spear four or six times, hurled it at us again and again. Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice, but he always stood firmly like a good knight, together with some others. Thus did we fight for more than one hour, refusing to retire farther. An Indian hurled a bamboo spear into the captain’s face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the Indian’s body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off.”

Too bad, for the lack of full research that was done. If only they knew better then…

Here is the cartoon of mention: Animaniacs – The Ballad of Magellan

Sources:

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York City, New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/magellan.htm

http://hist1upoufinalproject.blogspot.com/

Cake Under Pressure: Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics in a MasterChef US Pressure Test

In every MasterChef (in any part of the world) episode that involves a team challenge, there’s a pressure test at the end of the challenge for the losing team. For much such episode of any version, it’s either guess this, guess that or try to recreate this one type of test. For this application, the author will use one episode of the third season of MasterChef US, where in four of the losing team had to make a molten lava chocolate cake in 45 minutes. Two of four were of good standing; one was too floury & bland, while the last collapsed & looked very messy. Like a chocolate mess. In the said episode, the person who made the collapsed cake gave up his apron to the judges after one of them decided the one who made the worst cake then to step in & give up their apron with integrity.

For this one, she will use the concepts of Ferdinand de Saussure‘s Course in General Linguistics, even though that a reality TV show, cooking (or even baking in the episode) & literary theory don’t seem to match up. Saussure’s essay tries to explore the nature of signification. Some people said that sometimes the food is a reflection of the one who made it. In this case, that application can prove that.

Saussure explains about the nature of signs that words are not ready-made for anyone from the beginning, that language is the very necessary matrix that without any meaningful thought cannot exist without. He went on to say that a sign is the basic element that is involved in creating meaning & that they don’t just simply label or refer everything to a prior reality or referent. The essay also mentions that language is arbitrary since some signifiers are attached to the signifieds by conventions alone, than necessity.  It also explains that a particular sign only means to something because it is a part of the sign-system; the difference is the cornerstone of the functioning of any sign-system. It also explores the terms Langue and Parole (not a prison or judicial term). Langue is an abstract system within or the basic rules by which all signs mean, while a parole is the concrete applications or instances of such rules.

Let’s turn the attention to the molten lava cake. The one of the judges explains that it combines elements found in a cake (it’s a cake after all) & a souffle in one, & it is one of the desserts that many people, even professional chefs, cannot master well in the world, often baked in ramekins. The four main ingredients are butter, chocolate, eggs & sugar; both butter & chocolate should be melted & whipped together and the eggs can be whipped with sugar for  a thick paste, or can be separated with it so the egg whites can be mixed into an egg foam for more lift, hence a lighter cake. Anyone can make the cake more appetizing in any way: add some coffee for an intense chocolate flavor; put a sprig of mint; put some powder on top, etc.; any way will do. Timing is crucial to this: if placed in the oven too long, it is reduced to a brownie; take it out too soon, it will look messy.

Now back to the episode mentioned. Let’s say that the molten lava cake is the Parole, the contestants left to do the pressure test in that episode are the Langue, & they have to appropriate any certain elements of that cake to stay in the competition. The ingredients are the signifieds and signifiers they need to make a good sign for them to pass (or in this case, a cake). They have to understand the cake well in precision & with good measurements. The results were varied, as mentioned in a few paragraphs back. While one cake was too bland & possibly had too much gluten, it was the person who made a not impressive cake didn’t get the elements properly &, as a result, not only he got kicked out, he also murdered the integrity & idea of a perfect molten lava cake. He messed up the cake in a Structuralist view. The foundations were torn up. Maybe, time & the pressure can get the best of people sometimes. Who knows…

Watch the said episode starting at 26:30: MasterChef US S3 Episode 7: Top 14 Compete